Trent Radio 2023/24 Online Ads
Severn Court (October-August)
Theatre Trent 2023/24
Arthur News School of Fish

TGSA Holds Annual General Meeting, Introduces New Association By-Laws

Written by
Owen Harrison
and
and
March 10, 2023

Editors' note: A previous version of this article suggested incorrect figures concerning the ancillary fee increases and totals in relation to undergraduate levies and also mischaracterized President Kaszecki's mentorship program as a "membership" program. The paid nature of this program is also not confirmed, and so the article now reflects the Association's intentions in that regard.

TGSA Holds Annual General Meeting, Introduces New Association By-Laws

On Monday, February 27, the Trent Graduate Student Association (TGSA) hosted their Annual General Meeting (AGM). As a graduate student myself, I find it important to know what my student union is doing to represent me. I also recognize that not every graduate student could attend the AGM, so I want to create this summary to share with those who were unable to attend. 

Egan Henderson, Vice President (VP) of Student Affairs, chaired the AGM. As they are the only executive not running for a position next year. As a result, the information shared by all the other executives in their reports is important to know before voting. The voting period is currently active from Monday, February 27 until Monday, March 13 at 5 PM. 

The first report was from current President, Emma Kaszecki. She had a few notable achievements this year. One main project Kaszecki shared was the strengthening of relationships between Trent University’s administration team and the TGSA. Additionally, she worked to ensure that the interests of graduate students at Trent’s Durham Campus were being considered. Another initiative organized by Kaszecki was the TGSA hiring a photographer to provide graduate students with free photos at their convocation. 

Another project Kaszecki has reached the final stages of is a tuition reduction program for graduate students who are no longer being funded because of being overtime. This is an initiative that had been proposed by previous executive teams to the administration but had not been allowed to go to the Board of Governors for approval.

Kaszecki proposed three projects that she plans to continue working on should she be elected next year. These projects include creating a graduate space on the Symons Campus, developing a mentorship program which may include paid positions for graduate students, and working towards an overhaul of the terms of agreement between graduate students and supervisors to better protect students. 

There were no VPs of Finance or Internal Affairs in this year's TGSA, which meant that Kaszecki took on these responsibilities as well. One notable outcome was that the TGSA was able to distribute over $30,000 in bursaries to graduate students. The application process was also overhauled so the TGSA could provide more funding to students. Additionally, alongside VP Senate William Kim, the entire By-Laws, Policies, and Operations of the TGSA were optimized to increase the efficiency of the TGSA. Kim presented his report elaborating on his efforts to restructure the criteria for certain awards for graduate students including Excellence in Research and Teaching. Kim also reviewed graduate grants. 

Next was VP of Communications, Sarah Rayner. This year Rayner had a hand in organizing a couple of events for graduate students including Pride Picnic, Holiday Party, and the upcoming end-of-year party. Additionally, Rayner acted as the bridge between graduate students and the School of Graduate Studies. They also spearheaded an initiative to create new awards for graduate students and supervisors. 

The last executive report was presented by VP of Student Affairs, Egan Henderson who discussed the events that were planned and implemented for graduate students over this academic year. 

After the executive reports wrapped up, the commissioners shared their reports. Margaret Appiah, International Student Commissioner shared their progress in making sure that the voices of international graduate students are heard by Trent’s administration. One of the main projects she focused on was advocating for more job opportunities to be allocated to international graduate students in the same way they are to undergraduate students. Additionally, they worked with Trent International to advocate for housing assistance for international students and for a designated pickup day to help international students get to Trent when they arrive in Canada. Appiah also worked alongside the Trent International Student Association (TISA) to strengthen the relationship between graduate and undergraduate international students. 

The next report came from the Equity Commissioner, Jaz Raine. The main project that Raine worked on over the past year was working towards creating Student Accessibility Services (SAS) that were more geared toward graduate students' needs. The final commissioner report was delivered by Environmental Commissioner, Heather Klyn-Hesselink. An important project that they worked on this year was trying to create a laboratory recycling program at Trent.

The next item on the agenda was the budget. The main takeaway from this portion is that the TGSA will end the year with a sizable surplus. They stated that they intend to create an endowment to ensure that future TGSA teams will have funding in order to effectively serve graduate students. 

The next agenda items were the proposed referendum questions. In total, the TGSA presented eight questions which will impact the way graduate students are served in the next academic year. The first question asks that the TGSA be allowed to make minor changes to the by-laws and policies without calling for a referendum under a “housekeeping” by-law. In this question, it was emphasized that no changes to policy or by-laws would be allowed to be implemented. The only things that could be changed under this by-law are typographical errors, board member's responsibilities, dates, and modernizing language.

The second question asks to increase graduate student ancillary fees in line with provincial recommendations. Some of the reasons cited would be so that graduate students pay for certain services which are technically only available to undergraduate students. At the AGM it was stated that the overall fee increase would amount to approximately $50. Included in this total is campus safety response services which amount to $9.66. Perhaps there are other services that will be covered under this increase, but I am not sure where they are coming from. Considering the nature of the services surrounding campus safety, like TUEFRT (Trent University Emergency and First-Aid Response Team) and Walkhome, it seems fair to contribute to their funding. 

The next two questions relate to amalgamating some of the executive positions and the program representative positions. These changes would mean that the roles of VP of Internal Affairs and Finance would be combined to create VP of Internal Affairs (Treasurer), and VP of Communications and Student Affairs would be combined to create VP of Student Affairs (Secretary). This change would shrink the executive team from six members to four, which is essentially what the TGSA was working with this past academic year. It will also distribute the responsibilities throughout the executive team to allow for the TGSA to serve student needs more effectively. The TGSA has had limited members serving as program representatives over the past few years. As a result, not all programs are able to advocate for themselves to the TGSA. The proposal suggests eliminating these program representative positions and replacing them with more broadly focused representatives. This would mean that only four positions are required; M.A. representative, M.Sc. Representative, Ph.D. in the Arts, and Ph.D. in the sciences. These representatives would be expected to act as a bridge between all the disciplines under their umbrella and the TGSA. 

The fifth proposed question relates to the amalgamation of positions. It suggests that based on the increased individual responsibilities that result from reducing the amount of positions the honorarium for these positions would be increased. Additionally, it proposes that honorariums are released in monthly installments rather than the current annual release. The percentage of levy fees that would go towards paying these new honorariums would be 28% and the total amounts would become $3,000 per executive, $1,000 per commissioner, and $400 per program representative. Compared to other Ontario Universities graduate programs, the TGSA is asking for significantly less as most other schools ask for 48-57% of the budget.

The sixth question asks for a set annual increase of ancillary fees without referendum. These fees would go up by a maximum of 3% each year as they are meant to match CPI (Consumer Price Index) unless it exceeds 3%. The reason for this is to ensure that the TGSA can continue having enough funding through cases of drastic inflation. The seventh question proposes that the TGSA works alongside the School of Graduate Studies to release bursary funding. The TGSA emphasized that they would still be in control of all student money. The only change would be that they would now be able to access student financial information to better fund each student based on their needs. Additionally, it would create a checks and balance system which will make it easier for graduate students and the TGSA to track these transactions more efficiently. As it works now, funds are released through an e-transfer which makes it difficult to create receipts and claim bursary funds during tax season. 

The final proposed question asks that the graduate student body approves of the changes made to the by-laws and policies that were put in place during this academic year.

After the question period, there was a call for candidates to present their motivations and plans should they be elected for the 2023-2024 academic year. There was an unenthusiastic response, Sarah Rayner ended up coming to the mic, but they stated the reason was that they made unintentional eye contact with the chair. In their speech, they recapped what they had presented in their executive report. 

Hopefully this article helps provide you with more information regarding the email from the TGSA to vote on referendum questions and to vote for running candidates. Do not forget to vote before March 13, 2023, at 5 PM. Your vote matters.

Trent Radio 2023/24 Online Ads
Severn Court (October-August)
Theatre Trent 2023/24
Arthur News School of Fish
Written By
Sponsored
Trent Radio 2023/24 Online Ads
Severn Court (October-August)
Theatre Trent 2023/24
Arthur News School of Fish

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Caption text

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
  • adfasdfa
  • asdfasdfasd
  • asfdasdf
  • asdfasdf

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Caption text

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
  • adfasdfa
  • asdfasdfasd
  • asfdasdf
  • asdfasdf